What To Do if You are Arrested While Travelling in the United States

by Julia on November 5, 2019

Know your rights

Being arrested in a foreign country can be a terrifying experience. You may not have any contacts abroad, you may not speak the language well enough to communicate your intentions, and you may not have the current funds to free yourself.

The United States is a democratic nation, so you will always have the right to a fair trial. In this post, we discuss five useful steps you should take if you are travelling abroad in the United States, and you are arrested.

Step 1: Comply with police instruction

Even if you feel you have done nothing illegal, it is always best to comply with police instructions. Allow the arrest to go peacefully, don’t get combative, and don’t start yelling at the officers. Even if you have done nothing wrong initially, the last thing you want is to add on more charges like evading arrest, resisting arrest, or assault on a police officer.

Step 2: Remain silent

In the United States, any person has the right to remain silent. Using this right is in your best interest, as you are less likely to incriminate yourself for a crime. Remaining silent also ensures that nothing you say can be mistaken as a threat, and lead to bigger problems.

Step 3: Hire a lawyer

Hiring a good criminal defense attorney is a crucial step in fighting your case in the United States. Most likely, being from a foreign country, you are not well versed in the laws of the United States. Representing yourself is a dangerous avenue to take, especially if you are being accused of a serious crime. A qualified criminal defense attorney will be familiar with cases like yours, and will have the resources to properly fight your case.

Darryl Smith of the Smith & Eulo Law Firm in Orlando, Florida, advises, “Be honest with your attorney, as the little facts will determine the proper defense your attorney will pursue. If you believe you are a victim of police brutality or similar infraction, your lawyer can file a complaint with the agency’s internal affairs office or civilian complaint board.”

Step 4: Contact Family

If you are arrested travelling abroad in the US, you will want to contact your family (or close friends) as soon as possible. Not only can your contact be a great person to gather resources for you, but they will be extremely worried when they are unable to reach you. Inform them of your situation, but do not give them details of your case (unless it is a close family member you trust, like a spouse or parent).

Step 5: Take care of yourself

If you are being detained in a jail or prison awaiting trial, it is important to practice good self-care. Make sure you are keeping up with your hygiene, and eating properly when food is served. Talk to your attorney or family members as often as you can, as this will help your mental state.

Many people do not practice appropriate self-care once they have been arrested, and end up hurting their case by doing something illegal while being detained, or forcing themselves into a bad state of mind. It is important to stay positive, and focus on defending your case with the help of your attorney.

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